1. <botany> A treelike perennial herb (Musa paradisiaca) of tropical regions, bearing immense leaves and large clusters of the fruits called plantains. See Musa.

2. The fruit of this plant. It is long and somewhat cylindrical, slightly curved, and, when ripe, soft, fleshy, and covered with a thick but tender yellowish skin. The plantain is a staple article of food in most tropical countries, especially when cooked.

<zoology> Plantain cutter, or Plantain eater, a Java squirrel (Sciurus plantani) which feeds upon plantains.

<botany> Plantain tree, the treelike herb Musa paradisiaca. See def. 1 (above).

Origin: Cf. F. Plantain-arbre, plantanier, Sp. Plantano, platano; prob. Same word as plane tree.

<botany> Any plant of the genus Plantago, but especially the P. Major, a low herb with broad spreading radical leaves, and slender spikes of minute flowers. It is a native of Europe, but now found near the abode of civilized man in nearly all parts of the world. Indian plantain.

<botany> See Indian. Mud plantain, a homely North American aquatic plant (Heteranthera reniformis), having broad, reniform leaves. Rattlesnake plantain, an orchidaceous plant (Goodyera pubescens), with the leaves blotched and spotted with white. Ribwort plantain. See Ribwort. Robin's plantain, the Erigeron bellidifolium, a common daisylike plant of North America. Water plantain, a plant of the genus Alisma, having acrid leaves, and formerly regarded as a specific against hydrophobia.

Origin: F, fr. L. Plantago. Cf. Plant.

(01 Mar 1998)

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